The project

Chemical pollution is one of the three global crises putting the earth at risk according to the UN, and which is linked to the loss of biodiversity and to climate change. Recent studies on show that parts of the EU population are exposed to several hazardous chemicals at levels, where adverse health effects cannot be excluded. The status of European water bodies and recent scandals about PFAS contamination in drinking water show the urgent need to limit emissions of hazardous substances.  

Companies may not be aware of legal requirements on chemical safety in the various EU legislation (i.e. REACH regulation) or lack resources and competence to implement them. Chemical safety as a business case and competitive advantage has not yet been a convincing argument to improve chemicals risk management. Systematic chemicals risk management in companies is crucial to identify challenges, potential non-compliance and related action needs, including on substitution. Such systems must be simple, understandable, and implementable with reasonable efforts for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The project “Chemicals Risk Management and Assessment of Alternatives: Tools and best practices to support circularity, create more sustainable products and avoid regrettable substitution — LIFE FitforREACH-2” is based on several principles:

  1. Help for self-help: the FFR-2’s training, information, guidance and tools are enablers for companies to implement a good risk management system. Capacity building and consultation support the “learning by doing”. 
  2. Supply chain-based concepts: companies are part of an economic ecosystem; changes affect customers and may concern suppliers as well as further stakeholders. This is considered in the chemicals risk management system and implementation guidance. 
  3. Lifecycle thinking: all activities consider the entire lifecycle of a chemical in order to prevent shifting of chemical risks or environmental burdens, e.g. when substituting or redesigning products and services. 
  4. Addressing problems at their source: the analysis of challenges in chemicals risks management will always strive to identifying the root cause and find solutions that address this cause. Substitution of hazardous chemicals is one of the solutions that is a radical and comprehensive approach to address toxic risks at source.
  5. Holistic assessments and precautionary approach: Guidance and tools aim to give a comprehensive picture of challenges and solutions. Being precautionary may mean into go beyond legal requirements and apply future-proof solutions. 
  6. Ensuring a firm basis for chemicals risk management: in the sense of “help for self help” and with the aim of sustainably triggering changes in companies, it is an essential element of the FFR-2 to build competences in chemicals risk management, in particular on gathering, understanding and using information.